Chelsea’s first massive game this week was a solid result; can they follow that up with a win over Arsenal? After drawing 1-1 at Anfield, the Blues actually ended up having a strong week. They’ve kept their lead intact after their rivals slipped up in some straightforward encounters. They can’t rely on the same thing happening this weekend, plus they can deliver a serious blow to the Gunners’ title hopes with victory in this game.
Chelsea will also be aiming to avenge their 3-0 loss to Arsenal in their first meeting this season. That result had Antonio Conte stood on the side of the pitch looking helpless, with his head in his hands. He switched to a 3-4-3 in the second half, which then prompted the 13 game winning run which put them top of the table. That makes this game a big test of Conte’s new set up, can it result in a reversal of that defeat at the Emirates? A big win here would really stamp the Blues’ position as champions in waiting.
Team News: Conte to keep faith with Anfield 11
One again Conte comes in to this match with no injury worries. His side came through the January window with no signings, despite being linked with a couple of players on deadline day. They didn’t let any of their first team players go, despite interest in Nathan Ake. That gives the Blues a strong squad to pick from here, but the manager is likely to keep faith with the side which picked up a 1-1 draw at Anfield. The only possible change is Cesc Fabregas coming in for Nemanja Matic, given that they should be able to attack more at Stamford Bridge than away to Liverpool.
Arsenal aren’t just missing a couple of players for this game, they’re also without their manager. Arsene Wenger is serving a four game touchline ban for pushing a fourth official, which keeps him out of the dugout this weekend. He’s joined in the stands by Granit Xhaka, who is suspended. Both Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey are out injured, which leaves the Gunners looking a little light in central midfield. That leaves Francis Coquelin as their only available central midfielder, with Mohamed Elneny off at the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt. That’s a serious problem, given that they’re up against N’Golo Kante this week.
Arsenal are coming into this game on the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Watford, which was a serious blow to their title hopes. They found themselves 2-0 down within 14 minutes at the Emirates, and they failed to get back in to it in the following 76 minutes. Alex Iwobi did manage to pull one back, but the Hornets managed to claim a win which knocked the Gunners down to third in the table, they’re now behind Tottenham on goal difference. That defeat was also a blow to their Champions League hopes, as things are very tight between second and sixth.
That defeat followed a 5-0 win for Arsenal at Southampton in the cup. The Saints had fielded a weakened side, which played a part in their collapse. They had won six of their seven matches before that loss on Tuesday night, will they be able to get back in form with a result at Stamford Bridge? They come here with a very weak away league record, winning just one of their last four, and only nine of their previous 24.
Chelsea v Arsenal Head to Head
Obviously the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal will still leave a scar for the Chelsea players, they’ll be out to make up for that loss here. Their recent record against the Gunners has been mixed, with a defeat to them at Wembley in the 2015 Community Shield. The Blues won home and away last season despite struggling to defend their title. They also have an excellent record at Stamford Bridge against Arsenal, winning their last four home meetings with Arsene Wenger and his team. That includes a 6-0 thumping back in 2014.
- Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea, Sep 2016
- Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea, Jan 2016
- Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal, Sep 2015
- Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea, Aug 2015
- Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea, Apr 2015
- Chelsea to win – 21/20 with Betfred
- Diego Costa to score first – 7/2 with Sky Bet
Chelsea are 21/20 favourites for this game with Betfred, while Arsenal are priced at 3/1 with BetVictor to take the points. The Blues will be hopeful of continuing their four game winning streak at home to the Gunners, especially given their midweek defeat. A win here would also be massive for their title chances, but can they find a way past Wenger’s team on Saturday lunchtime?
Given that this is a tactical battle between Conte and Arsenal’s stand-in touchline manager Steve Bould, it’s easy to see a home win. On top of that, the Blues have an excellent home record ahead of this game, winning 91% of their outings at the Bridge, averaging 2.73 points per game. They’ve won their last 10 at home in all competitions, conceding in just three of those clashes. That should be enough to see a home win this weekend, which is what we’re backing here. A win for the Blues is our bet at 21/20 with Betfred.
Results against Arsenal tend to depend on the performance of Diego Costa up front. He scored the winner at the Emirates when these two met last season, while his absence was obvious during the Community Shield game at Wembley last season. The striker was isolated during the meeting at Arsenal earlier this season, but with the 3-4-3 we expect things to be different at the Bridge. The Premier League’s top scorer is now back in the side and scoring, and we’re backing him to get over his penalty miss at Anfield with the first goal here. The Spaniard is priced at 7/2 with Sky Bet to open the scoring.